Peter Chang, the acclaimed Chinese chef behind a restaurant empire scattered across Maryland, Virginia, and Connecticut, brings D.C. a long-awaited taste of his bold Sichuan cooking with help from some top-tier local talent.
The former Chinese embassy chef teams up with his daughter Lydia Chang to open Chang Chang in Dupont Circle (1200 19th Street NW). The dual project is comprised of separate dine-in (“Chang In”) and carryout (“Chang Out”) operations, with little menu overlap for each. Chang Out opens first on Saturday, October 8, followed by Chang In’s full-service dining room on Thursday, October 20.
Pastries from Pichet Ong, a seven-time James Beard Award nominee and family friend, will cater to both sides of Chang Chang. At Chang Out, Ong prepares a packaged line of cookies, brownies and other confections. At Chang In, Ong’s beautifully-plated desserts include a passionfruit-and-lime tart with black pepper meringue.
Chang Out’s carryout and delivery menus pluck out favorites from Chang’s 12-location portfolio (his eponymous collection of Peter Chang restaurants, Bethesda’s high-end Q by Peter Chang, Baltimore’s hip NiHao, and Eater 38’s Mama Chang in Fairfax). The opening to-go menus showcase best sellers like pan-fried dumplings, noodles, smashed cucumbers, mapo tofu, eggplant with spicy garlic sauce, bamboo fish, and sweet-and-sour spare ribs. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
At sit-down Chang In, Chang tapped Cantonese-American chef Simon Lam to spearhead a seasonal lineup of reimagined Chinese classics. Lam, an alum of NiHao and José Andrés’s China Chilcano, plans to punch up pig’s feet with chilis and chrysanthemum greens and jazz up cumin lamb chops with chili-cucumber yogurt, kabocha squash, and herbs. Other dish ideas include braised short ribs with seasonal vegetables; a Hainanese chicken presented as a roulade; and a salad of gem lettuce, avocado, green apple, seaweed, and tofu.
Chang, a 2022 James Beard Award finalist for outstanding chef, puts his signature stamp on the centerpiece of the menu: traditional Peking duck from his home province of Hubei. His tea-smoked, 48-hour preparation requires a special request in reservations, with only a few orders available each night.
Chang In will also run a bento box-style lunch special on weekdays and a lazy Susan-fueled brunch full of dim sum and spins on American classics (think: fried chicken with congee and char siu croissants).
Chang In will also highlight China’s beloved baijiu behind the 12-seat bar. The clear spirit that’s typically served neat helps build cocktails like the Mr. Q Daiquiri alongside Don Q rum, Maraschino, supasawa, and grapefruit. The Mood for Love cocktail unites Empress gin, Baltamaro Szechuan amaro, lemon, and Peychaud’s bitters.
The 5,000-square-foot old home of Mai Thai got a refresh full of white textured walls, herringbone floors, and arched-ceiling booths. Nahra Design Group handled the 180-seat look with a seasonal patio.